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Human Sewage: Building Material of the Future?

S#$ing bricks

If you thought that paving roads with asphalt made of pig manure was a weird, prepare yourself for an even weirder construction material: human poo. That’s right. Researchers at Universiti Teknologi MARA in Malaysia have developed a technique to recycle human excrement into concrete.

"Disposing sludge left over from treating sewage water is a major challenge for wastewater plants in Malaysia," explained Associate Professor Kartini Kamaruddin in an update on the project. "Meanwhile, the construction sector seeks economic and ecological cement replacement materials in order to meet an increasing demand for concrete."

The researchers’ technique involves converting sewage sludge into a powder by drying it out, burning it, and grinding it up. The resulting dust is then added to a conventional cement mixture to form concrete. Compared with normal concrete, the performance of the sewage concrete tended to decline in proportion to the amount of excrement powder added.

However, the team hypothesizes that a higher-temp incinerator may produce a better quality of powder and are executing a number of tests along these lines. The researchers are hoping to further improve production methods and increase the performance of this recycled sewage in order to make it a more viable and sustainable material for commercial construction.